The Christian Playbook
In this third and final piece of Romans 12 (NKJV), I am going to take you verse by verse of Romans 12:9-21. This is what I’m calling “The Christian Playbook”. Some bible’s headings have “Behave Like a Christian”. Today we’re going to learn how to behave like a Christian by examining the Christian Playbook.
12:9, Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t expect others to love, or love you, and then you do not show love. We have to not only be examples, but live a life of love. Remember “living sacrifice” from v1?
Abhor = apostygeō – to dislike, have horror of
You should not only dislike evil, you should be horrified by it.
Cling (cleave in kjv) = kollaō – to glue together, cement, fasten firmly together, join one’s self too
Completely and permanently fasten, cement, or glue yourself to what is good.
Luke 18:19, “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone.
Paul is telling us to hold onto the Father, not ourselves.
12:10, Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
Let’s break down some words here to give this perspective.
Brotherly love – “feelings of humanity and compassion toward one’s fellow humans.”
Preference = proēgeomai – to go before and show the way. To go before and lead.
Honor each other by giving preference to each other. “Show humanity and compassion and lead them.” Leading or guiding people is an act of love, just like correcting a child when they do something wrong. We’re not doing anyone a service if we don’t lead them. Discipleship is one of our duties.
12:11, not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
There are 3 words in this passage that stand out. Lagging, Diligence, and Fervent. Let’s examine them.
Lagging (slothful in kjv) – oknēros, sluggish, slothful (lazy), backward.
Diligence = careful and persistent work or effort.
Fervent (zeō) means “having or displaying passionate intensity”
We can take from this verse: Do not be lazy about persistent effort, have intense passion for the spirit, and while serving the Lord.
12:12, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
Rejoicing = chairō – to be glad
Patient = hypomenō – not recede or flee, to persevere
In tribulation = thlipsis – oppression, affliction, distress, etc
What is our hope? elpis – joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation
I can’t help but think of the book called “Holy Roar” by Chris Tomlin and Darren Whitehead when I see the word “rejoicing”. This book takes you through the 7 greek/hebrew words for “Praise”. You’ll learn all about the words, the type of praise.
Be glad in the joyful confidence of eternal salvation. Do not flee your afflictions or oppression or distress. Instead, be steadfast in prayer. To do things in a steadfastly manner is to do them in an unwavering manner. We must be in constant touch with God.
12:13, distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Distributing to the needs of the saints
Distributing = koinōneō – to come to a communion or fellowship with
We should always offer fellowship to our Christian brothers and sisters. This goes all the way back to the beginning of this lesson, and showing love to one another. Chuck Missler named his ministry “Koinonia House”, taken from the same greek word. Perhaps his ministry can be an example of how we should consider our homes.
12:14, Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
This is the part where I felt like Paul was starting to sound a lot like Solomon. Remember Solomon? He was given a chance to ask for one gift from God. After some thought, he asked for wisdom. Reading verse 14 reminds me a lot of that same type of wisdom that Solomon shares with us throughout Proverbs.
We should never curse anyone. That isn’t love. We should always take the opportunity to bless those who persecute us. Paul even reiterates the “bless” command by repeating it and pairing it up with “do not curse”.
12:15, Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
This may be one of the clearest verses in the entire bible. It’s pretty simple.
Rejoice with those who rejoice. Enjoy something joyful with people around you when they are cheering about something. Did your friend just receive promotion at work and is so excited they can’t contain themselves? Congratulate them and celebrate with them.
Weep with those who weep. Did your friend just lose someone close to them? Take time to sit with them and mourn with them. Be that person who supports them by walking with them.
12:16, Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Proverbs 12:15 tells us “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.”
There’s an old phrase. Think before you speak. Often times the dumbest person in the room is the one who has all the answers. Don’t think so highly of yourself that you disregard those around you, and miss out on valuable wisdom and experience through others.
12:17, Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
Jesus spent 3 years spreading love and the good news. He didn’t spend 3 years seeking out people and beating them up. We shouldn’t respond to an evil act with more evil. We need to be an example to all of what doing good looks like. We need to be Christ-like.
12:18, If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
The thing to do these days is to jump on facebook or twitter and start raging about any topic you can find. Fiery political talk is easy to fall into, but we must back off of these and try to cool the fires. We need to make peace with people and not participate in unrest.
Psalm 119:165 says “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”
I really like that verse. Don’t let things offend you. Brush them off, throw some water (love) on the fire, and move on. The only thing you’ll accomplish by getting into the fight is bringing more chaos on yourself.
12:19, Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
Here Paul goes all the way back to Deuteronomy 32:23. God tells us that revenge is His. Their day is coming, and He will make things right for us.
Imagine if a gang drove by and shot your friend. You gather up 4 of your best friends, arm yourself, and head off after them. You find their house. They’re all there inside. The plan is perfect, you just have to kick in the front door, and have a couple guys shoot through the windows.
Well, after all the gun fire is done, your group of 5 may have won, but you’re going home a group of 3 or 4. Do you want to lose more friends? Or do you want to let God take care of things for you?
12:20, Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
If you’re still hearing Solomon speaking, it’s for good reason. Paul directly quotes Proverbs 25:21-22.
A few years ago I turned off I-275 south onto Ann Arbor Rd. I was in the left right-turn lane. A pickup truck was in the right right-turn lane. We went on green. The next thing I know he’s next to me with his middle finger in the air, screaming, and clearly upset. To this day, I have no idea what I did, but waving and smiling at him just about broke his brain. He got madder and madder and finally stopped and looked at me in disbelief.
12:21, Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Finally, we wrap things up with a simple message. Do not let evil get you. Let good get evil. What is good?
Mark 10:18, “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone.”
Mark 10:18 parallels Luke 18:19 that we read above. How do we overcome evil?
The Christian Playbook is a simple, short manual packed with endless information. Paul takes us down a road that will ultimately give us peace and joy in our lives, while spreading love and good news to everyone around us. We’ll find ourselves surrounded with, and surrounding other, fellow believers.
We should never want to retaliate against evil. Instead, we should strive to love our enemies. Pray for them, show them love, passionately, and God will take care of the rest.
Let us leave this time of study by rejoicing and weeping with people we know and love.
Romans 12 Wrap-up
Thank you for taking this journey with me through Romans 12, the ultimate guide to true spirituality.
For a much more in-depth look at Romans 12, I would encourage you to read Chip Ingram’s “True Spirituality”.
I want to encourage you to present yourself as a living sacrifice to the world, remembering that this is your reasonable service, or act of worship. Always be renewing your mind so that you can battle against the untruths of this world.
Explore yourself in the way of your spiritual gifts. Pray to the Holy Spirit to reveal your gifts to you and help you understand and use them. Use your gifts to further the kingdom without putting the spotlight on yourself.
Finally, be like Christ. Behave like a Christian. Read Romans 12:9-21 often and practice every verse out in real life. Practice fervent serving and rejoicing with others. Don’t let the evils of this world pull you into their trap. Instead, respond with kindness and let God sort out the details.
Finally I would encourage you to read a chapter of Proverbs every day for the next 31 days.
James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Reproach means disappointment. God will give you all the wisdom you desire without any kind of let down.
Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Fear in this context is a good, healthy respect for the Lord. Not a scared feeling of running off to hide. Fear the Lord and take instruction.
About this 3 part study –
I started reading “True Spirituality” by Chip Ingram a few weeks ago. This (so far) amazing book has opened my eyes a little bit wider on Romans 12. I was approached by one of my church’s elders to fill in for him teaching his Sunday school class. I put this together, as I had read Romans 12:1-2 over and over and finished that section of Chip’s book. When I was asked to fill in 3 additional weeks, I thought “Let’s make it all on Romans 12.”
That’s where we’re at today. This is part 3 of 3 that I’ve titled “Walk as Christ Walked”. You can read the entire series right here.